Ask the Doctor

Question #8:

My grandson was born with jaundice. Can you tell me what causes it and whether it’s serious?


Elizabeth Dillman, MD, of Children’s Clinic, Ltd., says, “Many healthy infants develop a yellowish tinge to their skin in the first few days of life. It is a sign that the blood contains an excess of bilirubin, a chemical formed during the normal breakdown of old red blood cells. Everyone’s blood contains small amounts of bilirubin, but newborns tend to have higher levels because they have more bilirubin being recycled than adults do, and their livers are less able to process and excrete bilirubin. Since it can be a sign of something more serious, call the pediatrician if jaundice develops. The doctor may call for blood tests to determine the cause of the baby’s jaundice and may recommend treatment with phototherapy (using special florescent-type lights) for a day or two. Frequent feedings help babies excrete bilirubin, so a weight and feeding check a few days after birth is helpful.”

All Questions

  1. My newborn seems to need something to suck on when she’s not eating. Her mouth is in constant motion. Is it OK to give her a pacifier?
  2. What’s an appropriate amount of television for a toddler to watch each day? I’m worried that my grandson is watching too much TV.
  3. Can weight lifting help overweight kids?
  4. My 8-year-old still sucks his thumb. I hate to pressure him to stop and don’t want to shame him, so what should I do?
  5. My teenage son received a paintball gun for his birthday, and I’m reluctant to let him play with it. Are paintball guns safe?
  6. I’m wondering when my child will be old enough to move from the crib to a single bed. Any guidelines I should know?
  7. Help! My teen keeps talking about getting her tongue pierced. What can I tell her to discourage her?
  8. My grandson was born with jaundice. Can you tell me what causes it and whether it’s serious?
  9. My 2-year-old can’t seem to get into a schedule of meals. She’s hardly ever hungry when it’s time for a meal, but other times she wants to eat all day long. I worry that her eating is too erratic and not healthy.
  10. Is it normal for my baby to hiccup a lot?
  11. What should I know about impetigo if my neighbor’s child has it and frequently plays with my child?
  12. My mother says that my 10-month-old daughter should wear hard-soled shoes to learn to walk. When should I start buying shoes for my baby, and what types are best?
  13. My child complains about sores in her mouth and our doctor says she has canker sores. What causes them?
  14. My teenage daughter thinks she’s fat, but she’s normal height and weight for her age. Should I be concerned she has an eating disorder?
  15. My teenage daughter has been told that cramps and nausea she gets after drinking milk or eating cheese or ice cream are due to lactose intolerance. Can you develop such a problem as you get older?
  16. When should my baby start seeing a dentist?